Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The construction on Fernwood Road

They have been working on putting in new sidewalks on Fernwood Rd near Democracy Blvd in Bethesda, Maryland for about a week and a half now. The construction won't be done until the end of October so there is still a ways to go.

The good news is, if it hasn't impacted you yet, it probably wont. They have been doing a pretty good job of starting after rush hour and clearing up before the afternoon rush, although today they started a bit early.

When they are actively working they have had one lane closed and used flagmen to alternate traffic down the remaining lane. Since traffic isn't usually heavy during the day, that doesn't seem to be causing many delays. They have heavy equipment on the road both to dig up the existing asphalt sidewalk and to lay new concrete so I expect the lane closures to continue.

I first wrote about this project on the 21st.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Bethesda Fountains Part 5 (potd)

Bethesda Metro Fountain, Bethesda, MD

Another fountain at Bethesda Metro Plaza in Bethesda, MD (there are several, I'm not done yet). This is one of the biggest. Some big, straight up geysers as well as a number of small ones. I like this one, it is big and you can't miss it, but it isn't over the top. It seems like they drain this one all too often, and people do sometimes put soap in it to make lots of bubbles (which sounds cool, but is always disappointing in practice).

Read all of the Bethesda fountains series.

Bethesda Metro Fountain, Bethesda, MD

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Another Woodmont / Hampden / Elm Construction update

It has been almost five months since I last posted an update, a lot has happened since then. Five months ago they had cleared the lot, it was totally bare. Now, they have dug down and created a large basement. They have put in most of the concrete walls to hold the dirt out, the exception being along the ramp down into excavation. I suspect the ramp is temporary and will be removed once they no longer need heavy equipment at the bottom of the pit.

If you missed the earlier posts, this construction is along Woodmont Avenue in Bethesda, MD. It also borders Hampden Lane and Elm Street. Equinox Fitness will be moving in here with a four story 31,000 square foot fitness facility that includes amenities such as a full service spa, a pool, cafe/juice bar and five group exercise studios.

You can see the full coverage about this construction project.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

One way on Elm Street

Elm Street, east of Woodmont Avenue in Bethesda, MD isn't a terribly busy road. I do, however, tend to notice when they start doing road work and close one lane, using flagmen to alternate traffic through the area. And, when they do that for multiple days, well, a post is in order.

Yesterday they had the grates off and were working in the pit. Today, the grates are on and it actually looks to me like they are about done. I don't know when they started this project.

Today is Car Free Day

Bethesda Transit had a tent up at the top of the metro escalator by the fountain today where you can get commuting information (and prizes), it is/was there from 6:30 to 9:30am. Why? because today is Car Free Day (or car-lite day). Unfortunately you probably missed your chance to stop by the tent but you can still click on the links above and find out more.

(I already have driven today so I clearly missed the memo).

[where: Bethesda, MD]

Monday, September 21, 2009

Upcoming Construction on Fernwood Rd in Bethesda, MD

Montgomery County DOT is going to be putting in a new sidewalk and improving the drainage along Fernwood Rd between Democracy Blvd and Brixton Ln. This construction starts today and should be done by the end of October.

Currently there is an asphalt sidewalk along that stretch of road. They will replace it with a concrete sidewalk that includes ADA compliant curb ramps. Also part of the plan is adding five new drainage structures and replacing 5-6 trees that are in poor condition.

This construction may include temporary lane closures on Fernwood road, construction should be between 8am and 4pm. If you commute in the area you should look into alternate routes (like down Old Georgetown Rd).

The county sent a newsletter about this to nearby neighborhoods. It is great to see them communicating with residents and letting them know what is going on.

September 30

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Ourisman Ford site redevelopment (Bethesda, MD)

The Montgomery County planning board approved the site plan for redeveloping the former Ourisman Ford dealership near Montgomery Mall. The plan is to put in 340 apartments, 42,000 square feet of retail, and 12,000 square feed of restaurant space. The project is located at the corner of Motor City drive and Westlake Terrace. It backs up to Interstate 270 and is across Westlake Terrace from Montgomery Mall. The Ford dealership closed a little while ago and the site is currently unused.

The building will be 6 stories tall with an internal street to provide access to some of the retail and restuarant space. From above, the building will look like a U with the base of the U towards I-270.
The developers asked for, and received, a parking waver so that all the required parking for a building of this type and size isn't on-site, some of it would come from the parking lot at the former Expo Design Center building. The planning board supported this bucause it could descourage driving and promote alternative transportation. (Several different bus routes come in to the Westlake transit center, right across the street.)

The noise from I-270 can be significant. To address this, the area closest to the interstate will be outdoor recreation areas, including an inground pool, a putting green, and a patio with fire pit. The pool will have a 6 foot high concrete wall on the north side. The developers will add a berm or barrier along the east side to keep the noise in the recreation area below 65 decibels. The walls of the building closest to I-270 will have extra noise-reducing properties (windows and doors rated at 34 STC and walls rated at 56 STC).

I'm a bit suprised by both the intended use and the design of the building. I expected this to stay fully commercial. The design, with mixed residential and commercial is more what you expect to see in a downtown area, not right next to a suburban mall. This doesn't make it bad, in fact, it makes a certain amount of sense. I'm sure a lot of people would like to live right next to a highway entrance, a good chunk of your commute can be just getting to the main road. If you like shopping, being one parking lot away from Montgomery Mall is pretty attractive. I think for this to really work though there will need to be more residential, like if they redeveloped the Expo Design building into residential. To support the on-site retail you either need lots of people living within walking distance or you need to draw people from outside the area there. With the mall and the other strip-mall shops in the area, and lack of on-site parking, getting people from outside the area will be tough. Having another large apartment complex right next door would be helpful.

You can find out more at the Park and Planning website.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Affordable housing coming to Hampden Ln

Construction may begin as soon as the first quarter of 2010 on central Bethesda's new affordable housing project. The Edgemoor's 12 units of affordable housing on Hampden Lane near Arlington Road. Read more at DCMud.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Construction on Cordell moving along

Here are a couple of construction pictures of a building going up that opens to both Woodmont Avenue and Cordell Avenue right in downtown Bethesda, MD. It is going to have office space and retail and is supposed to be ready in the fall, but that may prove to be optimistic.

I don't think I like the stairs and retaining wall look that it has on Woodmont.

I have posted about this site several times, you can follow along.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Bethesda Place Blue (POTD)

I was walking down Woodmont Avenue in Bethesda, MD yesterday and saw that they had covered the metal Bethesda Place letters in blue masking tape. They actually had a number of areas covered in tape so they could do a little work there.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Get ready for repaving Old Georgetown Road

Some of the stimulus money is making it's way to Montgomery County. I saw this sign on Old Georgetown Road in Bethesda, MD. It says "Putting America To Work", "American Recovery & Reinvestment Act Resurfacing MD-187" The sign just went up yesterday and I am not sure when it will start, but it should be soon.

I sense a little bit of propaganda at work here, they really want you to know who is doing it. I think they went a bit over the top with it, number of words on sign: 12, number of words that tell you want is going to happen: 2. I also like the blue sign at the bottom which is blank except for the logo, I guess they couldn't decide on what to write there.

As an aside, walking two blocks in the rain to get the picture wasn't as fun as I thought it would be. It was really raining hard.

Update Sept 21: The sign is still there but it has been covered over with black cloth. I guess they are going to uncover it when they are ready to start the repaving.

Update Sept 22: here's the covered sign.

Update October 7: The sign is back to being uncovered and I saw them putting construction barrels along the southbound side of Old Georgetown Rd. There is also a second little blue sign that says "Martin O'Malley, Govenor"

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Bethesda Artist Market on Saturday

On Saturday September 12 (this coming Saturday) is another instalment of the Bethesda Artist Market with Pottery, Jewelry, Photography, and more from 25 local and regional artists. It is at Bethesda Place Plaza in Downtown Bethesda, MD. Bethesda Place Plaza is the plaza above the Safeway, it is bordered by Old Georgetown Road, Wisconsin Avenue, and Woodmont Avenue.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Five Guys coming to Bethesda, MD

It's official. Five Guys burgers and fries is opening up in the old apple store on Bethesda Avenue. I went by there and peeked through the door, there is still a lot of work to do so I don't know when it will open. The five guys website lists it as "coming soon" with an address of 4829 Bethesda Ave, Bethesda, MD 20814.

I'd heard they were coming to Bethesda Ave a few months ago but twitter user @Dominic_Murphy pointed out the location to me. That makes at least three burger focused places, Crossfire, BGR (stupid flash website, no link for them), and now, FiveGuys. Did I miss any?

Monday, September 7, 2009

Elm Street Park finally finished

After having large portions closed for all of the spring and the summer, all areas of Elm Street Park in Bethesda, MD are fully opened.

They closed it this spring to do some major refurbishment which included re-doing the walkways and installing new lights. Just two weeks ago I was wondering when it would reopen.

The picnic tables are tastefully scattered around the park, the benches are nice and new, the landscaping is finished. There are also separate trash and glass/aluminum recycling bins. Some of the newly planted bushes and trees didn't survive the summer and the grass needs to be mowed. They put new grass seed down along the paths and in several other spots and that is coming up nicely. The other areas though are mostly crabgrass. The sign at the entrance to the park is also not back in place.

Note that the playground area has been open the whole time and has not been upgraded.